The ropes were tied tightly to the huge oak tree branch. The handmade swing worked much better than the metal ones the local stores sold. Mary Ann had learned to kick her feet and could make the swing take her so high that her feet could touch some of the lower branches. Her father had fashioned it after the one he had when he was young and Mary Ann was delighted he had finally acknowledged her request.
The warm sunshine made the day delightful after being inside all winter. Wearing a sweater was not so bad. She would gladly wear one just to be able to go outside and play. Being an only child had its advantages and Mary Ann was very good at getting her way especially with her parents. The cat rolled in the dried grass enjoying the warmth as well. Daffodils nodded their heads in the warm breeze ushering in the warm spring season.
Mary Ann was singing some of the songs she had learned in her Sunday school class as she swung as high as she could go. Suddenly there came a voice from above her head. She allowed the swing to come to a stop and looked around her. There was no one to be seen. Again a voice called to her. “Mary Ann I have a job for you to do” the voice called. Mary Ann sat as still as could be turning her head from side to side as she looked all around the area. There was no one up in the tree, no one around her but the voice continued.
“If you have a job for me to do then you had better let me see you.” Mary Ann answered quite disturbed by the caller’s voice.
“Very well I will allow you to see me but no one else must know.” The voice called.
As Mary Ann looked upward into the tree she suddenly saw an angelic being appear. It was dressed all in white and had long dark brown hair. It settled on the limb just above her head.
“Who are you?” Mary Ann asked the stranger who was now sitting on the limb above her.
“I am one of God’s messengers and I’ve come to ask you to do something of great importance.” The angelic being spoke kindly.
“Well what on earth could I possibly do for you? I am only five years old and I haven’t even started to school yet. Why don’t you come down here so I can get a better look at you?” Mary Ann asked.
The angelic being moved like a cloud down the tree and stood beside Mary Ann. “You are so beautiful!” You look almost like someone I’ve seen in my dreams.” Mary Ann continued.
“Thank you my dear one. I have come here to tell you of a job my Master wants you to do for Him. You see we have some seeds and we need someone like you to scatter them about. It is not a hard thing and you can take as long as you wish. The seeds in the bag will be filled each time you run out. You will never have to go without seeds. All you have to do is wherever you go, scatter some seeds so they will take root and grow.” The angelic messenger said.
“What kind of seeds are these?” Mary Ann asked quite curious about the entire vision.
“They are just trees that have a lovely white blossom. They will not grow very tall but will display a message for the entire world to see. You see the blossoms on the tree have only four petals. Each petal has a mark on it to remind people about the death of Jesus. Do you think you might be able to help with his job?”
“Well I can scatter seeds if that is what you are asking.” Mary Ann answered quickly. “How will I know if the seeds take root and grow?” She asked.
“You don’t have to worry about that. The seeds growing are someone else’s job. Yours is just to scatter them!” The angel spoke gently.
“Then yes I will scatter your seeds but what do I get for doing this job?” Mary Ann questioned the angel sternly. “I don’t want to do this all of my life for nothing.” She smirked.
“You will be given a special gift when you are twelve years old. The gift will allow you to place your hands on the face of a person who is sick and that person will be instantly healed. Your name will be known throughout the world but there is only one thing. You must never charge any money for the healing. If you do, you will lose the gift.” The angel instructed.
“Well that’s nothing! I don’t care about making people well. That is what doctors are for, don’t you know that?” She mumbled quite perturbed with the entire request.
“Very well you think about it and if you decide to do this job, come back to the swing tomorrow. There will be a red stone here in the hollow of the tree. Just take the stone and put it in your pocket. As long as you keep the stone all will be well and we will know you are indeed accepting the position we have offered.” The angel sounded. Then without another word the angel vanished.
Mary Ann thought of nothing else that day. She was anxious to see the stone and got up early the next morning to visit the tree. There in the hollow of the tree was a sparkling red stone. Her eyes were amazed at its beauty and shine. She quickly put it into her pocket. As she was turning around the saw a white sack laced with a red ribbon at the top. Stooping to investigate, she found the bag was filled with seeds.
“Well l suppose I should begin scattering these seeds around my house and each day I will scatter a few more until they are gone.” She mumbled to herself. She reached her small hand into the bag and began to throw seeds this way and that. She walked all around her house scattering seeds. For weeks everywhere she went she scattered seeds.
The bags were refilled each time they were almost empty and Mary Ann continued her job. When she reached age twelve she indeed received a stunning gift. Her mother became quite ill with pneumonia and the doctors were doing all they could. Each day she grew worse so Mary Ann decided to try her gift and see if it worked. She didn’t want her beloved mother to be sick so she placed her cool hands upon her mother’s brow. She could feel nothing at all. Her eyes became sad for she was hoping her mother would be instantly healed and she had not been.
That night Mary Ann lay in her bed looking up at the ceiling. “I don’t know where you are, but I’ve been scattering these seeds for years now. You told me I’d have a great gift when I was twelve and I’m twelve now. I placed my hands on my mother’s brow and nothing happened. I shall scatter no more seeds until my mother is well!” She spoke angrily.
The next morning Mary Ann went to check on her mother. She was in the kitchen fixing breakfast.
“Mom what are you doing out of bed?” She asked quite bewildered by seeing her mother up and dressed.
“I woke up early this morning and I am fine. I don’t know what happened but I feel wonderful!” Her mother smiled.
It’s true! It’s really true.” Mary Ann blurted out. “I really did get the gift.”
For years Mary Ann continued to scatter the seeds and lay hands on the sick. The seeds grew and her name became known throughout the world as one who is able to heal the sick.
It wasn’t until Mary Ann grew older that she discovered what kind of seeds she had been scattering. When visiting the place where she once lived she saw white flowering trees everywhere. They were dogwood trees. Upon close inspection she discovered the four petals on the flowers had the bloodstained mark on each one. In the center a thorny crown was placed for all the world to see.
“This is the reason they wanted me to scatter the seeds.
This is the reason, for the entire world to see.” Mary Ann spoke with trembling lips.
“Suppose I had refused to scatter all of those seeds.”
From the angels lips this story was given to be scattered like the seeds around the world.
The author is unknown as was the name of the angel who visited Mary Ann.
These words stand as a beacon for the entire world to read and remember as are the beautiful blossoms on all the trees that continue to grow from the seeds Mary Ann once sowed.
The Dogwood Tree
When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
Its branches were strong and interwoven
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Being distressed at the use of this wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good.
Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As the blood stains the petals marked in brown
The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.
“All who see it will remember me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected this tree shall be
A reminder to all of my agony.” Author Unknown.
Question: Who cursed the dogwood tree never to grow tall again and why?
Story written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved